Reinstated military training requirement
The Swedish military called for refresher courses for volunteers among the 7,500 Swedes who completed military service or basic training since 2004. The Swedish Parliament decided in 2010 that the obligation to train and serve in the armed forces would no longer apply, unless a need would arise. And it has. "The world has changed in a negative way," said Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist on Dec. 11. The decision is motivated by the deteriorating situation in Sweden's vicinity, including increased Russian activity and foreign intelligence in the Baltic Sea region.

Strengthening disarmament efforts
The third International Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons was held in Vienna, Austria in early December. More than 150 countries have endorsed an international initiative focusing on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is the cornerstone in anti-nuclear weapon efforts to prevent proliferation and achieve disarmament. Under Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden wouldn't participate in the efforts against nuclear weapons, but now disarmament and non-proliferation are a consistent theme of Sweden’s foreign policy and extends to other types of weapons as well. A large delegation from Sweden’s government and Riksdag were at the conference, including Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is her intention “to act vigorously to promote disarmament.” Sweden’s government is now strengthening disarmament efforts across a broad front, including Russia, with hopes that eventually all nuclear weapons will be abolished. “More than 16,000 nuclear weapons remain to be decommissioned. It is high time to heed President Obama’s call to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in defense doctrines and negotiate significant reductions in nuclear weapons.”

Another near miss in the air
A Russian military plane nearly collided with a plane near Sweden — again. Sweden's Foreign Department called upon the Russian ambassador to discuss the near-collision, which occurred on Dec. 12 in international airspace when a Swedish SAS passenger plane took off from Copenhagen Airport. Russia's defense said their plane was a safe distance from the flight path of the passenger jet, but Swedish pilots feel it was dangerously too close. It was also flying without a transponder, an electronic identification device, rendering the plane invisible. The incident, the second of its kind this year, came amid a growing concern of signs of more assertive Russian behavior, including Russian planes regularly skirting or violating the national air space of neighboring countries. Denmark authorities have also called in the Russian ambassador.